Meet Your Navigators–Jill Matson


June, 2017

Jill Matson

At Autism Alliance of Michigan, the soul of our programs is our Navigator Team. We rave about this group all year long, and now we want to spend some time highlighting our heroes–our Navigators.

This team of dedicated individuals works day and night to find answers to all autism questions. They spend the time researching so caretakers can focus on what’s most important–their loved ones with autism.

Enjoy our 3rd installment of Meet Your AAoM Navigators. We sat down with Jill Matson who is our Navigator Clinical Specialist

Jill Matson is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who has extensive clinical experience working with children and young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from the University of Detroit Mercy and a Master of Science degree in Nursing from Wayne State University. Currently, Jill is the Clinical Specialist at the Autism Alliance of Michigan and the Clinical Director of Autism Services and Developmental Disabilities at the Imagine Center for Psychological Health. Jill is also the parent of a child with autism.

1.Why did you decide to become a Navigator?

I decided to join the AAoM Navigator Team because it gives me the opportunity to have a meaningful impact the lives of individuals and families affected by autism.

2. What is your favorite part of being a Navigator?

My favorite part about being a Navigator Specialist is sharing my clinical knowlede and experience with AAoM staff and other professionals within the community in an effort to improve care and quality of life for those living with autism. I love being a resource for the AAoM Navigator team, being able to provide guidance and direction for them on clinical issues as they work to help individuals and families seeing assistance.

3. What one story sticks out to you from your time at AAoM?

The one story that sticks out to me from my time at AAoM is when I was working with a family whose son had severe behavior challenges as a result of his autism. At the time the family contacted me, his behavior had become unmanagable. He was no longer able to attend school and the family’s home life was in chaos. They couldn’t leave the house, couldn’t find a sitter, couldn’t go to church, or do things together as a family. The parents were concerned for the safety of their younger children and many items in the home had been broken or destroyed. This particular family had been searching for months to find additional behavioral services and supports for their son, but had been unsuccessful. I was able to find clinical services and behavioral supports that over time, allowed this child to return to school and his family to feel safe in their own home and to enjoy family activities again.

4. What would you tell a family who is hesitant to call the Navigator Help Line?

I would tell families hesitant to call MiNavigator that we can help, no matter how difficult the situation may seem! Navigators literally help families “navigate” the often confusing process of autism diagnosis, accessing services, insurance coverage, educational programming, employment, housing, etc. AAoM Navigators are knowledgable and experienced in working with families to identify and access needed resources and support and are able to consult with AAoM Specialists whenever needed, working together to identify solutions to the difficult problems and challenges individuals and families affected by autism face on a daily basis.

5. What help do you offer families?

I offer clinical expertise to individuals and families who call MiNavigator. For example, I can assist them in understanding an autism diagnosis, evidence-based treatment options, and the medical and mental health problems associated with autism, and can help them in obtaining clinical supports and services.

6. Describe autism in 3 words.

Autism in three words: lots of work!

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